Creative Journey: No Real Complaints

Creative Journal #6 I need my Creative Juice to Kick In

Hello again, it’s been a week and while I wait for my go juice (coffee) to kick in, I’m going to write up what I worked on yesterday.

Chapter 3 has been finished and I’ve passed the 6k work mark. I find that I am looking for places in my day to add writing and I am also disappointed when things like my laptop running out of battery at work prevent me for keeping my writing jam going during lunch.I had taken my laptop to write in the morning and again at lunch. Fire up the machine, burrito warmed, and “battery critically low”……I was non-plussed.

While I write Chapter 3 yesterday, I will be posting Chapter 2 below. I’m also going to add a link where the whole story will reside as it grows. Feel free to leave your comments in that file 🙂

Lessons I’ve learned in the last week:

1) Don’t take breaks when there are time references being made I will need to reference in the not too distant future.

2) Tell people you’re writing a book (or working on a creative thing)

3) Reward yourself

Expanding on these lessons……

There is a dialogue where I use what the dock owner says to set the timeline for the rest of the chapter. I slogged through the dialogue and called it a night. This was Tuesday…..then I get to Friday, sit down, and it turned into an exercise of re-reading what the characters said in order to write the rest of the chapter. NOW…..I know I could just leave it and edit later. However, I want to form good habits now and since I am sharing this as I go along, I want this to make as much sense as possible for you. I’d hope early readers would be a little forgiving when it came to notes in the text but I don’t want to do a thing where I take you out of the story. As a reader is reader, if there is a timeline or plot hole separated by 2 paragraphs, that doesn’t read well. While the reality is that the separation is a few days for the writing, it is a matter of minutes for the reader. Let’s not be my own worst enemy.

I’ve been telling people I’m writing a book and the reaction is almost universal. “What kind?” and “That’s exciting!” and I have to say, it makes me want to write more. I am pretty sure I said this in my last post (no, I’m not going back to look) but the consistency in the reactions is great. In general terms, I saw the same reaction when I was designing games more regularly, people are usually interested when you are taking on a project. I think the big different between a game and a book is that people know how to engage with a book or the idea of writing a book. With games, people have no ideas games can even be designed. That probably sounds weird but in my experience, people don’t know what to say to “I designed a board game”. On the other side of that, “I’m writing a book” people can immediately reference the books they’ve read, papers they’ve written and they can estimate the effort required to write a book. Not to say the effort to make a game is any less, books are more understandable.

Reward yourself for your efforts. I’m not a fan of dialogue. I don’t have the writing pallet yet to get multiple characters that much…..character. I know this and I don’t expect to be good at dialogue in my first book. With this in mind, I’m going to get through it and because I’m eating my vegetables, I’m going to design a sporting even for the Luxe Universe! I know it will be in the book at some point, I just don’t know when. What I do know is that I’m very much looking forward to adding this sport and it will be a thing built into the story which will keep me going. I suppose you could call it a Quidditch clone mechanics, not the sport (it isn’t designed yet) but the idea of adding a sport to a story that may or may not need it. But sport has a special way of bringing people together and in a world where there are a lot of dudes floating around, they will want competition, so it fits.

Those are my lessons for the week. I am setting a goal……of sorts. I am not a fan of goals as they are too specific for me. I prefer to “work to constantly improve” which may sound like a cop-out but I’m working on so many things at the same time……usually…..that I don’t want to set a goal I know I won’t meet because it is too specific.

I want to be done with the first draft in 16 weeks. I wanted to write that as 4 months but I think 16 weeks has a little more punch. It is July 15th @ 6.52am……first draft will be done Nov 15th.

Below you will find chapter 2, as always, unedited and notes included. Please feel free to leave comments.

Chapter 2

The train was making it’s way out of the station when Daryl got the reply

##add back the message details

::Hey Daryl, good to hear from you. I do have a controller job open. I’ve been really pleased with Darren’s bots and efforts so far [Details Set – Off]::

::Makes me proud to hear that, his cousin is looking for a job and I wanted to ask if I could set up an interview::

::Sure, can you have him apply through the boards?::

::[Encrypt Set – On] There is a reason I wanted to reach out before we took that step::

::[Encrypt Request Confirm – Yes/No] {Yes} I’m intrigued::

::[Encrypt Confirmed] Her name is Sarah::

::[E] Ah……I see. Well you know how I feel about the culture up here. It stinks. And if Sarah is as good a worker as Darren, I would be pleased to have her aboard. What kind of fleet does she operate?::

::[E] [Add Participant : SARAH]::

Sarah’s data pad gave her a new chat notification

“Tarik wants to know about your fleet” Daryl informed her

::[E] Sarah: Hi Tarik, my Uncle says you want to know about my fleet. I run 10 bots. They are all inspector-transport hybrid bots. I am building my first construction bot now. I have tested all my bots in the pool. I also helped Darren build up his fleet when he was recruited::

::[E] Tarik: Hi Sarah, pleasure to meet you. I’m sorry we can’t go through the normal channels on this one. I understand you’re responsible for the interface program Darren has been running::

::[E] Sarah: That’s correct. When Darren and I built bots in the shop, I focused on the programming and got a lot of help from Darren with the bot building. I’ve learned a lot about the building since he’s been on the Trade Moon and I think I am ready to make the jump::

::[E] Tarik: I’m not worried about your skills to be honest. The only question I have for you is, are you prepared for what you will have to do  when you’re up here? It will be easy to “hide” you by giving you off shifts. We can have you working behind the scenes on the programming. I don’t know how much on-site work you’ll be able to do but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Assuming of course, you’re ok with what it will be like while you are here?::

::[E] Sarah: My Uncle has told me what it would be like to work up there as far as the culture is concerned. I just want a chance to work on the Trade Moon::

::[E] Tarik: Excellent, I need to chat with your Uncle about the best way to get you up here::

::[E] Sarah: Thank You! Thank You! You won’t be disappointed!::

::[E] Daryl: Thank you Tarik. Let’s hop on the Verbal Comms when I get home. That work for you?::

::[E] Tarik: Let’s jump on comms tomorrow. Evans is floating around the office the next several shifts::

::[E] Daryl: Understood. Chat tomorrow. Thanks again. She will be a good worker for you::

::[E] Sarah: Thanks Again!

::[E] Tarik: My Pleasure, glad I can make this happen for you, check the job posting when you have a moment::


Sarah pulled up the Trade Moon job board with here data pad. She scrolled to the bottom where Tarik’s name was listed. Bot Controller now showed as [Cancelled]. It felt weird that a word with a negative meaning was the official notice she was going to be working on the Trade Moon but she knew the world she was going to would be small for her and this moment where she knew where she was going with her next step was quietly exhilarating.


A few days later, the plan had been thought out and tickets purchased. Space tourism for the masses was becoming a thing on the planet Luxe. Tourists to the Trade Moon were on a regular schedule and discussions for trips to the [other moon’s name] were happening. The technological jump which made space travel for the masses possible was the space elevator provided by the [AA]. Located on Luxe’s equator, there were regular shuttles from the Hub [reference city Sarah lives near?] going to the elevator. Most of those shuttles were for the contractors on their way to the Trade Moon but tourist travel was increasing over time.


The most popular form of tourism to the Trade Moon was to go for a week. It was a 6 hour trip to the top of The Elevator. [##there is only one elevator right now, hence why it is called “The Elevator”] From there, it was a 2-4 day hopper shuttle to the Trade Moon. Once on the surface, tourists would be assigned a place to stay and taken on a tour. The tour was sparse as there was no commercial presence yet on the Trade Moon. There was an agreement in place among the dock owners that commercial businesses and the expansion of tourism on the Trade Moon would wait for the Space Gov’t to get up and running. After the guided tour, the Trade Moon visitors were left to their own devices, assuming they stayed in the public areas. From the public zones, they could see the trade docks at work and get a good view of the central station of the hook travel network. It was difficult to see the different ships coming into and out of the Moon Hub since bots took care of most of the last mile transportation. This meant the tourists would get to see the different bot fleets working together to move goods from one place to another but they inspection and construction and inspection jobs were much more luck of the draw. Tourists would have 2-3 full days on the Trade Moon then they would make the trip back.


A tourist trip was going to be step one to getting Sarah on the Trade Moon and into her new job. Her Uncle would leave 3 days after Sarah. She was booked on a week long trip to the Trade Moon. She would get to do the tourist thing for a few days, see what sights there were to see, look at how the bot fleets work together and get used to the layout of the Moon Hub, at least from a tourist’s point of view. Her Uncle would depart via direct flight on one of the worker shuttles departing from the Planet Hub. Moon workers were given the faster mode of transport to the moon since there was only one space elevator. Daryl would take her bots with him and if anyone asked, he was there for a visit and to drop off the rest of Darren’s bots.


*   * *

Sarah boarded the space elevator with a group of 15 tourists. A family of 4, both the children between the ages of five and ten sat in the corner of the cable transport gondola. Two college aged who were disappointed they would not get to see how the cable worked with the gondola. A group of 5 folks from the [green nation]. Sarah could not tell who the tour guide was but based on the conversation Sarah could hear, this was not a tech savvy group. They seemed interested and excited in the whole process but it was clear they fit the term “space tourist”. Sitting on the same bench seat as Sarah were two gentlemen who were mostly quiet, kept to themselves and seemed content to close their eyes and let the hours go by until they needed to board the shuttle on the Anchor.

The hours passed, as the gondola went up, so did Sarah’s excitement about what was happening. Around hour 2 she allowed herself to think about how this was the first time she was going to space. She was slightly upset with herself she had never stopped to think she had never been to space before. It was obvious, of course, but the reality of what working in space would mean had never really occurred to her.

The space elevator had the option to use an artificial gravity field, but this option was not made public. The idea being that, as the tourists went higher up, they would ease into the sensation of being in space. There was no way to avoid the jolt of weightlessness once they reached the anchor, but every little bit helped. The shuttle used to get tourists from the Anchor to the Trade Moon was fitted with gravity generator. It was always set to equal the Trade Moon’s gravity except during transfers. It was easier to get passengers into and out of they seats when they could take “normal” steps.

Sarah’s Uncle wanted her to have as much time to herself in the Moon Hub before she started work. He knew that once she got started in her job, she would be consumed by her work and she would also have to stay out of sight more often than not. He didn’t want her to lose sight of the fact she was on the Trade Moon and what we she doing and where she was doing was special and required her thoughts to make it above the ground she would be working under for days at a time. She could do her job, but Daryl didn’t want her to get stuck on the Trade Moon, regardless of the male dominated work environment. The galaxy could literally be hers.

Her room was located 3 levels underground. Food was available all the time in the form of nutrient pastes and flavorings. The children of the group were not pleased but they were plenty distracted watching the bot fleets working to move goods from ships to docks and back again. Sarah was also distracted by the fleets. She wanted to see the formations they flew in. She wanted to count how many were working in pairs or groups. She also wanted to identify potential ways to save time with a bot only fleet. She knew there were a lot of controllers who would work alongside their bots. This was not going to be an option for her, unless the work was in the dock. Inspection and construction jobs were out of the question.

Sarah’s datapad flashed a notification from her Uncle

::[E]Uncle Daryl: leaving in an hour. I’ll send a message once I’ve connected with Tarik::


*   * *

Daryl watched as Sarah’s bots were being loaded into the rockets storage. He sent her an encrypted message and made his way to his seat. There were three other workers on this transport. Daryl didn’t want to talk to anyone during the flight but the pilot recognized him.

“Administrator! What takes you back to the Trade Moon?” the pilot said.

“My son wanted the rest of his and I figured I would see what it was like up there since I had left, so here I am, bots in hold” Daryl answered.

“I think you’re going to be surprised, a lot has changed in the last 2 years”

Daryl was pleased to be noticed but they fewer people who knew he was on the Trade Moon, the better. He needed to be able to get back to the planet and not have people wonder how he got back.

The pilot, now in the cockpit came over the comms, “engines fire in ten minutes, set your belts to soft lock. Belts tighten 2 min to engine start up sequence. Flight time will be 18 hours. Feel free to move around the cabin and if you want to sleep, be sure to secure yourself to the walls. You don’t want to float around and bang your head against the wall. You will hear me again after injection, listen to Doris countdown and take off notifications.”

Doris, a digital voice, gave a 60 second warning to belts, a 30 second warning to engine start up and a 10 second countdown to take off. On the way up she gave answers to what the different noises were as the ascended.

“WHY ARE THEY TELLING US ALL THIS? THIS AIN’T OUR FIRST LAUNCH!” one of the passenger yelled out.

Daryl knew they were testing the comms system for high end space tourism. People would pay to get to the Moons faster, but it was best to keep them informed as they went through the process. The pilot needed to fly the transport, Doris was the solution.


*  * *  

Daryl, Sarah and her bots were on the Trade Moon. Daryl had messaged Sarah he was at the dock with Tarik and her bots were in the workshop waiting for her. At a predetermined location, Daryl and Sarah were going to swap places. While there was no easy way for the tourists to get to the dock section of the Moon Hub, Tarik could get them to a good spot. Sarah had already identified it and was waiting for them when they arrived.

Daryl could not wait too long as the shuttle which was supposed to take Sarah back to Luxe was departing in an hour. They only had a moment to speak.

“Thank you Uncle Daryl”

“Give em hell kiddo”

Daryl said another thank you to Tarik for the risk he was taking for him and his family.

Both parties went their separate ways


Daryl had boarded the shuttle back to the orbital Anchor. He felt a combination of pride and fatherly concern for what was left of his family now working on the Trade Moon. He knew they would be able to hold their own, but space, as he was aware, is an unforgiving place. He wanted to send a message decided to wait until he was back on planet.




What Games Mean to Me #20 Try, Try Again

Another great lesson I get from games is to try, try again. I know this is a basic rule that we are taught as children, but there is something about games that makes the lesson stick. I think about the game of Go, a bit far away from the designer games I am usually referencing, but Go is a game where I have  long way to go in what I can learn from that game. The people I play the most are much more experienced and they win on a regular basis when they play me. However, I keep coming back to the table because Go offers a medium for me to exercise the idea of trying again and trying something different and not giving up. The reason I don’t give up is because I feel like I am understanding a little bit more about the game each time I play it.

How does this apply to real life?

When I hit a road block in whatever I am doing in life, I think about the small things that I can learn from the situation that allows me to be better the next time around. Yes there is something that is blocking my progress, but what am I doing in the mean time to educate myself and better prepare myself for taking on the same challenge? When I play a game, what did I learn about a strategy in-between plays that will help me play better the next time?

While the consequences of a game are low compared to the risks taken in life; the lessons taught in small increments can have huge meaning if the lessons are applied to the larger context of life.

Find us on Twitter (Follow Us!) and Facebook (Like Us!)

If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at

What Games Mean to Me #19 Games Taught Me Game Analysis

When I played games in High School and College, when the game was over, the winner cleaned up and the rest of up turned on a movie. When I got back into games a couple year ago, I started to think about everything that happened on the board and why it happened. I would think about the different decisions I could have made and what those decisions would have done for me during the game.

Taking the time to think about this game analysis after each play has made me want to try games more than once, made me a better designer and opened my eyes to the depth that modern board games provide.

The post game debrief that we gamers experience is part of the fun of the game. Why did you make that move and what was the turning point if the game from the point of view of each player.

Thanks to the games I play and thinking about what happened during the game has had a far reaching impact on my ability to enjoy the games I play and make the game I create better for the people who play them.

Find us on Twitter (Follow Us!) and Facebook (Like Us!)

If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at

What Games Mean to Me #18 Games Taught Me How to Lose

I am a terrible gamer. I have a way of using strategies that are good enough not to lose but never good enough to win. I think part of that is I have not played any game enough times (other than my own designs) to get to a point where I have command of the basic strategies and move into the advanced strategies. Unless we are talking trick taking games, I tend to be pretty good at those.

Before I got into regular games nights, my usual gaming was with high school buddies and the only thing that mattered was winning. I hated losing in those situations.

When I got into the regular game nights with people from my meetup group, I learned very quickly that the point of games is to play them and the winning and losing part were the lowest things on the list of why to play a game. Playing games with new people taught me very quickly how to lose and sometimes win and have those things not matter. The interaction with people at the table and the enjoyment of playing a game and doing something that was outside the routine of life was more important than winning or losing.

Games have found a way to allow me to find enjoyment while removing the need to win or lose. This is important to me because when I was a kid, I was a terrible loser. Should the day come that I have a child and I need to teach them about winning and losing, I hope that I can use games to teach them that the experience of play is more important the the perceived life or death situation that is winning and losing.

Find us on Twitter (Follow Us!) and Facebook (Like Us!)

If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at

What Games Mean to Me #17 My Brain Craves Games

Games turn my brain on.

I don’t know if my brain is wired for games but when I play games I feel like my brain is working at peak efficiency. That is not to say I play them any better or I turn this peak efficiency into winning, but I do feel like my brain is firing on all cylinders. I learn games relatively quickly and I really like the learning process and trying to figure out the best strategies.

Games are a great opportunity for me to fail over and over and try things out every time I play a game. I think what games ultimately offer to my brain is a method to systematically organize and think about the options that are in front of me.

I will close with an example. When I was in High School, the game of choice among my friends was Spades. I love Spades, I am good at it, it is simple and it is a lot of fun. I was recently introduced to Wizard and my Spades brain was in heaven. Even though it was the first time playing the game, I jumped into organizing my cards and thinking about what I needed to bid. It took me 5 rounds to figure out how the wizard and the joker really effect the bidding system, but after that I was on a roll. I was able to go from last to second (six player game) over the course of the last half of the game.

My brain felt happy, if that makes sense.

Find us on Twitter (Follow Us!) and Facebook (Like Us!)

If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at

What Games Mean to Me #16 Games Give Me Hope

Games make me smile, games make me interact with people in new and interesting ways and games give me ways to spend time with people from all different walks of life. Games give me hope that people can come together and enjoy a shared experience.

These days, we are surrounded by all sorts of bad news. Granted, bad news sells and gets clicks, but I could do with some more good vibes in the world. We are also in an age where it is easy to be a troll due to the anonymity the internet provides.

My experience with games has given me hope that people can come together and smile. I don’t think that games can solve the worlds problems, but I think that games can bring people together. When people are brought together to share an experience, they can see that dissimilar people are not that bad. There are people with different kinds of humor and people that have different life experiences. Games are and can be a starting point for conversation and when people talk about games, they tend to listen better because what is at stake in a game is trivial compared to the rest of the world. But listening to another person share their strategies is a chance to learn a way to play that game better. I firmly believe that if people would listen to one another, there would be a little less fear of the unknown and a little more understanding.

Games give me hope because they can facilitate these conversations, the listening and the smiles and enjoyment that is playing games.

Find us on Twitter (Follow Us!) and Facebook (Like Us!)

If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at

What Games Mean to Me #15 Make Me Think Bigger

The board game market is small, very small. I am well aware of this and yet I still want to try and make a career out of being a board game designer and publisher. What I concluded very early in this process was that I need to think bigger. I need to think of ways that can grow the hobby and bring in as many people as possible. I need to think of different games I can design for all kinds of potential fans. The ideas I get might be crazy and total garbage, but at least I am thinking big.

Before board games came along, I normally kept my scope of thought to my immediate sphere of influence, aka not very big.

The project that is building a board game company has forced me to think bigger and think about others that are currently outside my scope of influence. I now look at the outreach, marketing and advertising projects of other companies and organizations in a different way. There is a lot to learn from the ways other people and organizations reach out to new customers. I can’t look into the future and know what this change in the way I think means in the long run, but what I can tell you now is that I find myself more willing to take the time to hear more points of view when it comes to board games and other topics outside of board games.

I do this because I know that the games we make will need to appeal to a wider audience and their opinions matter. This ins’t just about making the games I want to make. This is about making games for the people that want games that don’t know they want games. Of course, I will still design games that I want to play and I will make games for the fully immersed hobby gamer, but there are a lot of people out there who have yet to be exposed to a game that is right for them and I need to think bigger in order to get the awesomeness that is board games to their table.

Find us on Twitter (Follow Us!) and Facebook (Like Us!)

If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at

What Games Mean to Me #15 Teach Me to Talk with Confidence

I had a play test a few the week of writing this and while playing our game and meeting some new people was awesome, the time we spent after the test talking about games, design, and Kickstarter was the best.

In real life, I am normally quiet and reserved because I don’t have tons of confidence floating around about the subjects on the table. I tend towards knowing a little about a lot of topics, rather than a lot about a few subjects. This leads to a lot of situations where I know the people around me know more about a subject than I do and while I am in the conversation enough to know what is going on, I am never driving the conversation, or participating at the same level as everyone else.

In game life, I have a level of confidence to talk about all sorts of topics. Taking us back to the conversation post play test, I was the guy at the table that lead the discussion and had something to add to the conversation at all times. I was being asked questions about design and the time I have spent working on our games gave me the confidence to know that what I was saying was legit because I had either read about or experienced the ups and downs of game design.

We talked about what we were going to do during our Kickstarter campaign. Having spent the time reading about how to run a good Kickstarter campaign and followed other campaigns that did both good and bad things, I knew how to answer the questions with a level of confidence I don’t have in other arenas of interaction.

Find us on Twitter (Follow Us!) and Facebook (Like Us!)

If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at

What Games Mean to Me #14 Goal Setting….Sort of

If my high school cross country coach reads this, I am sorry. Goals have never stuck with me. When I ran cross country, we had to write down goals and we had to write them in the present tense. As much as I wanted to believe what I was writing, I was never good at challenging myself to run a sub 5 minute mile (5:35 is my personal best) or sub 11 minute two mile. I think I was there more for the social aspect of being on the team and spending time with my friends. Not to say I wasn’t trying, I just never had strong feelings towards goals and writing them down never did it for me.

Today, I still don’t really get the warm and fuzzies from writing down goals, BUT what games have done for me is make me look at what I need to do to build a board game company.

I still don’t like to write down my goals because that type of thing just doesn’t work for me. What does work for me is my drive to make a games based living work for me and that one huge overarching goal is enough to make me keep going on a daily basis. I don’t really go for resolutions either, but this year (2015) I want to work on TGIK Games, the company, every single day. And I am not just talking about spending ten minutes writing a blog post. I need to be doing research, reading relevant blogs that will help me learn what I need to in order to make it and survive in this industry. If I had sat down 18 months ago and written down the goal to build and run a board game company, I would not have been motivated by the words I wrote on that index card. What drives me are the words I write down every day of the tasks I have accomplished and the things I have learned.

Find us on Twitter (Follow Us!) and Facebook (Like Us!)

If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at

What Games Mean to Me #13 Help me Exercise

Before I got into game design, my daily routine was to wake up really early, go to work, drive home, lay down on the couch and nap until my wife got home, make dinner. Then games came along and while I wanted to get work done before my wife got home, I did not have the energy levels required to continue working the way I wanted to when I got home from work. Try as I might, I still took a nap more often than not, but I was able to start getting some work done on games in the evening. However, that was not enough to really think I was taking the board game design hobby seriously.

I realized that I needed to change my routine and get my energy levels back up so I could have two full time jobs at one time. I started running again and I started to do some yoga on my own. If I am honest, I have been on again off again with the exercise and yoga for about a year now, but my overall fitness has improved, and more importantly, I don’t take naps as soon as I get home from work anymore. I get a lot more work done and I finally feel like I am taking the board game business building and designing seriously.

Not to mention the “side benefits” of being in better shape and not feeling like a couch potato all the time. When I am on a longer run and I feel like garbage, rather than use some standard motivational line you would hear from a gym coach, I think to myself that I want to be able to stay up late and get up early the next day to work on games and I need to be able to have the energy and get better rest so I can design and build the games I want to make.

Find us on Twitter (Follow Us!) and Facebook (Like Us!)

If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at